What we do during Lent in worship

(that might be different from what we do the rest of the year)

As we begin our Lenten journey, here are a few things to be aware of in the liturgy that will hopefully enrich your prayers on Sunday.

During Lent, the opening acclamation “Bless the Lord who forgives all our sins” is used in place of “Blessed be God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We do not sing or say Alleluia. Alleluia is, of course, an exclamation of joy and praise.

When we intentionally omit it during Lent, it underlines the somber tone of the season.

And when we arrive at Easter and sing and shout Alleluia again, we do so with greater joy!

Similarly, we do not sing or say the Gloria during Lent. In its place, we sing or say the Kyrie (Lord, have mercy) or the Trisagion (Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One).

On the First Sunday in Lent, we prayed the Great Litany. This is a solemn prayer and the original version is said to be the oldest prayer composed for public worship in the English language. In fact, it comes from the pen of none other than Thomas Cranmer, author of the first Book of Common Prayer, in 1544—that’s five years before the first Book of Common Prayer. This year, we will pray the version of the Great Litany from the New Zealand Prayer Book.

On the remaining Sundays in Lent, each of our liturgies will begin with the Penitential Order, including the Confession.

During the season of Lent, the hangings, stoles and chasuble are the color of unbleached linen, accented with vivid dark red and black. These vestments are called the Lenten Array.

Here’s a bit of history around their use:
In England (and other places in Northern Europe) before the Reformation the use of the Lenten Array was almost universal. It is symbolic of the pared-down simplicity, even austerity, of the season. It marks a stark contrast with the festive white and gold vestments of Eastertide and makes a clear visual distinction between the season of Lent and the deep blue color of Advent. In the Episcopal Church today, more and more churches are using the Lenten Array in place of purple. Hopefully, this will be a visual cue that points us toward the simplicity of Lent, a visual reminder of the journey

Flowers are replaced with arrangements of twigs and branches. At St. Francis, we are blessed by the artistry of our Flower Guild who manage to make dead wood beautiful and evocative.

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